Will Rowlands excited for knockout action after Wales achieve ‘minimum standard’
Will Rowlands says it was Wales’ “minimum standard” to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
Wales have arrived at the knockout phase for a fourth successive tournament. They went on to make the last four in 2011 and 2019.
Argentina await in Marseille on Saturday, when Wales will start as favourites following an impressive pool-stage performance that saw them collect 19 points from a possible 20 and secure a quarter-final place with a game to spare.
It is all a far cry from last season’s Six Nations, when Wales only avoided the wooden spoon by beating Italy in Rome.
“There has been a lot of confidence in the squad about what we want to do. A clear message from the coaches,” Wales lock Rowlands said.
“We train well during the week and try and deliver on the weekend. We are just playing to our strengths, and the results have been spot on for us so far.
“The performances can get better, but we are just excited now to kick on and get to the real meat of the competition next weekend.
“It feels really exciting, we want to keep going in the tournament. For us, it was the minimum standard to get to this stage.
“We were confident that if we played the right game-plan, got the right players going in the right direction, then we knew we could beat other teams. We have proved that.
“That Fiji game (opening fixture) was tough. They played really well and put us under a lot of pressure, but we got the result and we have played better and better since then.”
It is less than four years since Rowlands made his Test debut, but he has developed into a pivotal part of the Wales pack during an international career now closing in on 30 caps.
His leadership has also been to the fore, and combined with his performances it makes him undoubtedly one of the first names on Wales’ team-sheet.
Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist Jonathan Humphreys added: “He is a massive player for us.
“It is interesting to see his growth as a leader, and he drives a big part of the lineout defence.
“He is a big influence over this group, and he is a great character, he really is.
“To see him in terms of the effect he has on the game, in terms of the contacts and the physicality, he is a big player for us and he is turning into a big leader for us.”
Rowlands, meanwhile, even if he spends most of his time in close-quarter action, can readily appreciate the form of Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit.
Rees-Zammit has already scored five tries in the tournament, including a hat-trick against Georgia, to leave him one behind current pace-setter Damian Penaud.
“Give the ball to Zammo in a bit of space and you can almost stop running,” Rowlands said.
“Just let him run it in. He is electric and it is great to have him in the side.
“Zammo has probably been a bit frustrated the last few weeks with not getting the ball enough, but he was great (against Georgia).
“If we can get the ball to him more, then we know he will score more tries.”
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